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Brief notes about Villa del Monte

Villa del Monte is located in the territory of the town of San Gimignano, at the border with the lands of Certaldo and Gambassi Terme, and thus straddles the spheres of influence of Siena, Volterra, and Florence. It was mentioned as far back as the Middle Ages: in fact, Fiumi, speaking of the territorial coherence of San Gimignano through the centuries, notes that “Pulicciano,” with the Villa del Monte - today in the territory of San Gimignano but in the area controlled by the Bishop of Volterra until about 1240 - may be considered one of the few discernible territorial variances (Reg. Vol. n°884) . We also know that in the Villa, included in the Diocese of Pulicciano, a document was drafted in 1281 concerning a controversy between certain residents of Pulicciano and their Podesta. We must thus suppose that the Villa was initially a castle, of which walls of considerable thickness still survive in the 18th-century villa structure we see today.
The complex was restructured and enlarged in the mid-1700's with construction, in the garden, of a round crenellated tower between the two levels of the garden, which are also linked by a double curved staircase. World War II, and in particular the passage of the front, made necessary new actions for consolidating the structure, which still preserves its original characteristics and is protected as an asset of particular historical and artistic interest - besides enjoying an exceptional position from the landscape point of view.

Brief notes about some of Villa del Monte owners.

Throughout the centuries of its history, Villa del Monte - through the male and female heirs from generation to generation - has belonged to many families of great importance and prestige.
The XIMENES DE ARAGÓN (Ximenes d'Aragona in Italian) family purchased the complex in the 16th century. The family, of Portuguese origin, acquired much prestige and power especially in the late 1400's and early 1500's, becoming one of Europe's wealthiest families thanks to trade with Africa. They invested their wealth in Tuscany, purchasing a splendid palace in Florence built to plans by Sangallo and surrounded by vast gardens (on which area an entire residential neighborhood of Florence now stands), the Sammezzano estate, and the Loggia farm in the upper Valdarno, Villa del Monte, and extensive holdings in Saturnia, over which they had territorial jurisdiction as marchesi. The Ximenes d'Aragona, in the 17th and 18th centuries, held the highest civil and ecclesiastical offices (remember, for example, Tommaso, Bishop of Fiesole from 1620 to 1633), and even married into the Medici family. In fact, the courtyard of the farm is adorned with a Medici coat-of-arms united with that of the Ximenes d'Aragona. From Ferdinando Ximenes d'Aragona, the last male descendant of the family, in the late 1700's the estate, name, and titles passed to the sons of his sister Vittoria, married to Niccolò Panciatichi.

Thus began the period of ownership by the PANCIATICHI family, later PANCIATICHI XIMENES D'ARAGONA. The Panciatichi were an ancient family originating in Pistoia. They were important and well-known as far back as 1200; after having ruled in Pistoia, they fought against the Cancellieri's in the period of the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines and moved to Florence. Here too they acquired wealth and notoriety (there are many Panciatichi farms as well as the very important Palazzo Panciatichi in Florence, today the seat of the Tuscan Regional Council, facing Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Bronzino's famous portraits of Lucrezia and Bartolomeo Panciatichi are in Florence's Uffizi Gallery. From the last male representative of the family, Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d'Aragona, the Villa passed to his daughter Marianna, a well-known malacologist, who married one of the PAOLUCCI's, a descendant of the illustrious house and the son of General Paolucci .

Thence, through another Marianna who married Ettore ARRIGONI DEGLI ODDI, one of the most important scholars of ornithology of the time, we come to today's owners, members of the well-known southern Italian family the RUFFO DI CALABRIA, descending directly from the Ximenes d'Aragona family.


Maria Anna Ruffo di Calabria
Villa del Monte actual owner
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